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This course will provide an introduction to three major Spanish painters–Velázquez, Goya, and Picasso–who lived and worked, respectively, in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Though these painters are world famous, they are rarely studied comparatively, and in the context of their Spanish artistic roots. The syllabus will cover the historical and social contexts in which they started working, and how they followed, and departed from, artistic conventions of the time. Through specific paintings, we will consider the historical evolution of the artists’ relationship to their patrons and subjects, from the elite status of Velázquez within the royal court, to Goya’s dramatic rise with the reigns of Charles III, and Charles IV, and his subsequent exile to France. Picasso was free of royal patronage and also lived in France, yet despite this freedom he remained deeply connected to the themes and concerns of his Spanish artistic predecessors. In addition to key paintings including Velázquez’s “Las Meninas” and other royal portraits, Goya’s “Maja Desnuda” and his series “The Disasters of War,” Picasso’s “Guernica,” and his own 20th century reinterpretation of “Las Meninas,” we will focus on the artists’ shared subjects of portraits and war, and consider the following issues: How does the role of the Spanish artist change over the periods covered? How did the artist exercise his freedom whilst under the scrutiny of the court and the Catholic Church? How were these painters’ lives and work shaped by key historical events such as the Inquisition, Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, or the Spanish Civil War? How does the work of art evolve in its role from private royal commission to public display in museums open to all? We will read short literary pieces from each period, primary materials such as letters and other documents, and historical and critical works. All readings will be in English. Knowledge of Spanish is encouraged, but not required.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
3- to 5-page weekly assignment
first-year students and sophomores
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit: